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The Joe Problem

I got a chuckle out of this piece on what to do about Joe Biden:

“You can’t just have a guy like him at loose ends, he’d go crazy,” said a Democratic consultant who knows the affable, bright and mercilessly quotable soon-to-be ex-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “They need to keep him busy. Nobody over there wants him getting into the Secretary of State’s [business].”

Harnessing Biden’s considerable talents and containing his flaws will be an ongoing challenge for Obama.

That, given his gaffe-filled campaign, would be an understatement. The piece goes on to speculate that Biden’s greatest use in the new administration may be in forging deals in the Senate. But then again:

“Joe’s really well liked—and he can be a real stand-up guy—but it’s going to be tough for him,” said an aide to a top Senate Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We’re not in the mood to make deals. People like him, sure, but people are going to change their votes on defense or health care or taxes just because Joe Biden’s a great guy?”

And after all, as one analyst observed, “Obama already has his own relationships in the Senate so, in a sense, he doesn’t need an emissary.”

Well, this is the dilemma of all Vice Presidents. How to spend their time and what to do? Unlike Dick Cheney, however, Biden can’t get enough of the limelight, and is unlikely to be content simply as an advisor behind the scenes. Nor does he have a particular portfolio distinct from the roles other key administration members (e.g. the Secretary of State) will play.

So, other than presiding over the Senate in close votes, going to funerals, and selling the President’s platform, what will Biden do? If Obama is really as savvy as we are led to believe, he will come up with some long, boring, and tedious topic (re-reinventing government?) to keep Biden occupied. Since the election Biden, has been kept largely under wraps, but that certainly won’t last — to the delight of comics and pundits everywhere.


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